Dry eye syndrome is a condition that affects between 5 and 34% of the general population at least some time during their life. It is more common among older people, with nearly 70% being affected. There are several treatment options available, ranging from over-the-counter medications, treatment of any underlying disease that may cause this condition, and avoiding the conditions that directly cause it.
There are several home remedies and natural treatments for dry eyes that can help to relieve the symptoms.
1. What is dry eye syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome or KCS (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) is a condition where the natural secretion of tears in the eyes is inadequate or absent. Tears help keep the eyes lubricated. The eyes blink between 15-20 times in a minute in normal circumstances, and one of the functions of blinking is to keep the eyes well-lubricated and fresh. Tears help to keep the eye surface smooth and comfortable, prevent the accumulation of dust or debris, and prevent infection.
The lack of tear production or poor quality of tears leads to drying of the eyes. As a result, we feel a stinging or burning sensation in the eyes, or we may feel as if there’s dust or grit in the eye.
Itching, scratchiness, and tiredness of the eyes are other common symptoms of the syndrome. As the condition progresses, you may feel pain, pressure, and a pulling sensation behind the eyes. If left untreated, it can cause eye damage, impaired vision, etc. However, loss of vision due to dry eyes is rare.
2. Causes of dry eye syndrome
There may be several underlying causes, including:
- Excessive evaporation
- Decreased tear production
- Use of contact lenses
- Congenital or lifestyle factors
- Pre-menopause in women
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Autoimmune diseases
- Side-effects of certain medications
Treatment is based on identifying the underlying causes and taking appropriate medications.
3. Home remedies and natural treatments
It is quite simple to treat dry eye syndrome at home. Natural treatments for dry eyes ensure that the condition is treated as soon as possible, with a focus on prevention and lifestyle changes.
- Warm compress with cleansing
Soak a soft, clean cloth in warm water and hold it over the eyes for a few minutes. Repeat once more, when the cloth cools down. After this, wet the cloth and gently rub over the eyelids. Use a mild baby shampoo or soap to wash them and remove accumulated oil. Gently massage for best results. Wash thoroughly.
- Increase the number of times you blink
Train yourself to blink more often, especially if you work continuously at a computer. Keep in mind the 20/20 rule—blink 20 times every 20 minutes.
- Diet and nutrition
Eat vitamin A-rich foods, fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and vegetable oils, among other food items good for the eyes. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and eat moisture-rich fruits and vegetables. These are good natural treatments for dry eyes.
- Eye protection
Wear wraparound sunglasses when you’re outside for long hours, especially in windy conditions. Avoid pointing the hair-dryer, air-conditioner, or fan directly at the face. Over-the-counter tear simulation medications can also help lubricate the eyes.
- Alternative medicines
Homeopathy, acupuncture, castor oil, and traditional systems of medicine can provide relief as various forms of natural treatments for dry eyes. Consult your doctor before you take these treatments.